Thursday, July 5, 2007
Daddy Die Hard
Is Papa Bruce Willis too old to do it up convincingly as a certifiable action hero? Nineteen years after the original Die Hard comes the franchise’s fourth at bat, Live Free or Die Hard, and Brucie Boy is back as the indestructible John McClane, referred to in the movie as “ a Timex watch in a digital world”. The bang-bang movie cues off with a totally wooly plot brimming with improbabilities, peopled with cardboard characters (this go round’s villain, played by Tim Olyphant, is the least memorable one of the series, and Justin Long’s wise-ass sidekick is more insufferable than amusing), all of it just barely held together through Willis’ acidly etched every-cop. Like those men-of-action before him (Bronson, McQueen, Eastwood) Willis is smart enough to sprinkle in plenty of self-effacing humor alongside the brawn and muscle, and it goes a long way when the latest revenge actioner starts rolling out. (As amusing, high-tech, and wham-bam as the crashing, exploding, shooting, and mass slaughter on view may be, without an action icon—or an action figure with an on-screen persona that goes beyond muscles or a huge muscle-head—-the action genre can seem no more than one giant loop of mass destruction.) Nothing with ever match the pure propulsive simplicity of the first dumb bunny Die Hard movie (it was equally moronic and entertaining), but Willis-as-McClane remains an edifying American pastime, like chugging a cold beer while wolfing down a chili-dog.